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Five fabulous global destinations for biking in the fall

Grab your helmet and take a ride through these five bike-friendly cities around the world. | By Cassandra Brooklyn | September 12, 2023

Autumn brings fiery fall foliage, pleasant temperatures and a more relaxed pace for traveling. And what better way to explore than on two wheels? Whether you’re looking for seaside rides in warm weather or crisp and cool jaunts along forested paths, these five destinations provide the perfect mix of fall fun, food and foliage around the world.

Portland, Oregon  

If Portland is known for one thing, it’s excellent cycling. The city also has fantastic food, a buzzing beer culture and postcard-perfect fall foliage, making it the ultimate U.S. destination for leaf-peeping bike lovers. While there are many places to rent your wheels, a stay at Canopy by Hilton Portland Pearl District promises complimentary bikes for the entirety of your trip. Primely located near the waterfront trail, Portland Japanese Garden and downtown, the hotel is also just a 15-minute walk (even faster by bike!) from Tom McCall Waterfront Park. There you’ll find a car-free cycling trail along the shore of the Willamette River, continuing around to the Eastbank Esplanade and its “floating walkway” with unobstructed views of downtown. You’ll also be within a 2- to 7-minute bike ride from the Portland Art Museum, Lan Su Chinese Garden, Powell’s City of Books and the Midtown Beer Garden, a newly revamped food cart pod and live music destination.


Amsterdam is the unofficial world capital of all things cycling. Most locals get around on two wheels, so you’ll fit right in riding along the canals and protected bike lanes that blanket the Dutch capital. Though biking aficionados could easily spend their entire holiday riding around the city, Amsterdam is also a pedestrian paradise, and its canal cruises are another unique way to take in the fall foliage. Oh, and make sure to save time for Amsterdam’s history and culture, including visiting the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House and the delectable food markets.


Whether you’re traveling solo, with friends, family or your significant other, the U.S. capital is the perfect place for fun on two wheels. Not only does the district have world-class museums (many of which are free) and restaurants, but it’s one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. Though biking in Washington is excellent year-round, fall brings much more comfortable temperatures, with the trees lining the bike trails lighting up in brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow. Well-marked bike lanes and protected paths will get you around town from The Wharf to Georgetown and, if you’re looking for longer rides, you can make it all the way out to Alexandria, Virginia or Bethesda, Maryland. Canopy by Hilton Washington DC The Wharf provides free bikes for guests, and the hotel is just 1 mile from the National Mall and situated in a vibrant waterfront neighborhood that’s great to explore by bike.

Ottawa, Canada

Canada’s National Capital Region of Ottawa-Gatineau has over 373 miles (600 kilometers) of multi-use, car-free pathways to explore, making it the perfect place for all sorts of cycling. From easy sightseeing rides along Ottawa’s recreational paths to expert trails and mountain biking routes just outside the city, cyclists of all walks (rides?) of life will find exactly what they’re searching for. Escape Bike Tours & Rentals and RentABike shops are conveniently located in the downtown area, and you can even rent a tandem or electric bike to ride on your own or as part of a guided biking tour. Picturesque waterways and forested paths become even more beautiful in autumn, and while there’s almost no bad place to go for a ride, a great place to start is the Capital Pathway — one of the most extensive networks of off-road, multi-use paths in North America.

San Diego

While summer in San Diego calls for beach trips and boat rides, come fall, the city transforms into a pedaling paradise. The Mission Trails Regional Park offers 5,800 acres (roughly 2,347 hectares) of terrain and biking trails for virtually any type of ride— from leisurely sightseeing trips to full-day adventures for experienced riders. Balboa Park's striking Spanish-colonial architecture and lush gardens are a treat any time of year, but every weekend in October the San Diego Zoo (located within the park) hosts a family-friendly HalGLOWeen event. Beyond admiring the animals at the zoo, visitors will also be entertained by scarecrow stilt performers, spider acrobats and more.

Whether you crave family-friendly fun and stateside waterfront rides or an adults-only vacation to scenic cities abroad, fall is a fabulous time to get away and enjoy autumn on the back of a bicycle.

Cassandra Brooklyn is a freelance writer and guidebook author specializing in travel, accessibility, sustainability and all things outdoors. Originally hailing from the Midwest, she now lives in New York City but escapes to adventures around the world as often as possible. As the caregiver of a disabled parent - and as a hyper involved auntie of three - Cassandra is especially passionate about accessible, inclusive and multi-generational travel. She's the author of the cycling guidebook, Cuba By Bike, has contributed to multiple guidebooks about Egypt, Portugal and the United States, and has bylines in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Forbes, The Daily Beast and Lonely Planet, among others.

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